Would you believe the Hastings Council will spend over $2 million in 2009/10 on marketing and advertising? It’s $2,026,694 to be exact. And pretty much the same amount each following year, according to the Council’s draft LTCCP documents.

Does that strike you as too much? Too little?

How would anyone know? I’ll bet no one at HDC knows. In fact, I’ll bet they don’t even know the number, let alone whether it’s well spent.

For one thing, it’s spread over literally dozens of cost centres in a 300+ page budget document. Secondly, it’s spent by a miscellany of staff who are totally uncoordinated and, I suspect, have varying degrees of marketing savvy.

This money is spent on a wide array of projects and purposes, from visitor centres to the Kelt Capital Horse Race … from employment adverts to promoting Splash Planet … from Hastings City Marketing to regional tourism … from the art gallery to sister cities programs.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love marketing. That’s what I did in a former life. And surely some of this stuff deserves to be marketed with ratepayer dollars (perhaps some doesn’t).

But when you’re spending $2 million+ each year, I think you ought to:

a) know it;

b) deploy it strategically (including from a regional perspective), with a clear sense of priorities; and,

c) have the right people making the decisions.

Are any of those conditions being met in Hastings today? Hmmm.

Tom Belford

P.S. Culling this kind of information out of the Hastings budget can be fun in a perverse sort of way. Try it sometime … just pick a category like “Legal advice” or “Mobile phones” and knock yourself out! And, hey, you Napier ratepayers can play too.

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